– A federal district court issued an order
Tuesday that permanently prevents the federal government from enforcing the Affordable Care Act’s abortion-pill mandate against the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute and its “Family Talk” radio show. The order also declares that the mandate violates the organization’s rights protected by the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The Obama-era mandate forces most employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception through their health plans under threat of heavy penalties. The Trump administration’s Department of Justice abandoned its defense of the flawed mandate.
“Religious organizations have the freedom to peacefully operate according to their beliefs without the threat of punishment by the government. Tuesday’s order fully affirms that freedom and provides the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute with permanent protection from the mandate,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor.
“As with other recent orders in favor of faith-based organizations, Dr. Dobson’s ministry will no longer have to fear being forced to pay fines for simply abiding by the Christian beliefs that it teaches and espouses, and it is no longer required to fill out forms authorizing coverage for abortion-inducing drugs,” Baylor explained. “The government has many other ways to ensure access to these items without forcing people of faith to violate their deepest convictions.”
“If the government can fine religious ministries out of existence because they want to operate consistently with their faith, there’s no limit to what other freedoms it can take away,” said lead counsel L. Martin Nussbaum of Nussbaum Speir PLLC. “We are pleased with the court’s order and equally pleased that this ministry will no longer have to worry about immense government fines for choosing to live out the very faith it believes in and talks about on the air.”
Dobson and “Family Talk,” a division of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute, specifically objected to providing coverage for abortifacients.
In its permanent injunction order in Dobson v. Azar
, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado explained that Dobson and Family Talk “have been successful on the merits of their claim under RFRA [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act]. The plaintiffs face potential irreparable harm in the form of violation of their rights under RFRA unless an injunction is issued.”
The same court issued a permanent injunction for six other Christian ministries
in December of last year. Other federal district courts have issued similar orders for Christian organizations in Oklahoma
, Indiana, California
, Iowa, Michigan
, and Florida
. ADF attorneys and allied attorneys continue to litigate numerous other lawsuits
against the mandate.Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.